If someone were to ask you to flex, what is the first muscle you think of? Biceps, of course. You’d raise your arm up and show them which way the beach is. Biceps have been glamorized since the beginning of fitness time and if you were wondering how to make them grow, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we will break down what biceps are, their purpose, how to make them bigger, and some exercises and routines to try!

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Table of Contents

What are Biceps? Bicep Anatomy

How to Make Your Biceps Bigger

Best Bicep Exercises

Bicep Workout Routine

What are Biceps? Bicep Anatomy

Free language lesson! “Bi” has Latin roots meaning “two” and “ceps” means “head”. Your biceps are obviously located on your arm, but did you know that they have two heads that attach to your shoulder at the origin and insert past the elbow at your forearm?

The two heads are commonly known as the short head (located more towards the outside of your arm) and long head (located more towards the inside of your arm). You can perform bicep movements in certain ways to target them both for well-rounded muscle growth.

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Your biceps have two main functions: to flex your elbow by bringing your forearm closer to your shoulder joint and to supinate which is a fancy word for turning our palms upward.

With that in mind, the best way to target your biceps would be to perform a variety of curls since that motion forces your biceps to contract. Changing your hand and elbow positioning and even grip width can help emphasize different parts of your biceps.

Ways to Emphasize the Short Head of the Biceps

  • Elbows in front of your body
  • Wider grip width (outside of shoulders)
  • Curl with supination (start with a neutral grip and finish with palms up)

Ways to Emphasize the Long Head of the Biceps

  • Elbows at the side of your body
  • Normal or narrow grip
  • Palms up through the full range of motion (fully supinated)

Ways to Emphasize the Brachalias

There is another muscle located next to the biceps lower towards your elbow that is the most responsible for flexing your elbow joint called the brachialis. It will get targeted with any bicep exercise, but if you want to give it some extra love, you can perform curls with your palms facing each other in a neutral position (ie hammer curls).

How to Make Your Biceps Bigger

We will get into specific exercises and routines at the end of this article, but first, you’ll need to understand how muscle growth works so you can apply these principles to your training.

Muscle growth mainly occurs through three different mechanisms: mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress.

Mechanical Tension: In order to get stronger and bigger, you need to apply progressive overload. This is where you place stress on your muscles that’s greater than what you are used to in order to force adaptations.

Muscle Damage: When you work out, you break down your muscles. Your body recognizes this and sends satellite cells to help you recover and grow back stronger.

Metabolic Stress: Think of this as the “pump”. Your muscles will appear larger due to swelling that occurs from lifting weights. You can feel this during grueling drop sets training to near failure.

What else can help ensure that your body is performing well in the gym and recovering properly to help grow your biceps? Here are some general tips:

Nutrition

  • Aim to get around 0.7-1lb of protein per pound of body weight. This will have a huge impact on recovery
  • Try to eat 3-5 evenly spaced protein-centric meals each day. This spikes muscle protein synthesis and can contribute to muscle growth
  • Eat in a small caloric surplus: give your body the energy it needs to fuel, recover, and grow
  • Don’t neglect whole foods, micronutrients, and everything else that can help you perform your best to get quality workouts in

Sleep

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night
  • Sleep allows us to recharge and recover. It lowers cortisol levels and increases testosterone

Training

  • Smaller muscle groups can be taken to failure more often than heavy squats or deadlifts. Don’t be afraid to push it to the limit during most of workouts for these movements.
  • Prioritize biceps in training. If you really care about maxing out your bicep growth, you don’t have to wait until the end of your workouts as a finisher. Include them while you are fresh so you can get in more quality sets
  • Use compounds: there is nothing wrong with doing “isolation” exercises, but you can get plenty of great bicep work through pulling motions. Again, biceps are responsible for elbow flexion so any pulling motion with your back will also hit them. 

Best Biceps Exercises

Now to the good stuff! What are some of the best bicep exercises to help them grow? We need to make sure they target the muscle (duh), can be overloaded, and are challenging through a solid range of motion.

Best Dumbbell Bicep Exercises

Best Barbell Bicep Exercises

Additional Bicep Exercises

Compound Movements for Biceps

  1. Weighted Chin-Ups or Neutral grip
  2. Barbell Rows
  3. Single Arm Lat Pulldown with Supination

Find out what works best for you! Some exercises might be more comfortable than others, so give them a shot for 4-6 weeks to see what progress you make.

Bicep Workout Routine

Here’s an example of a back/biceps routine if you wanted a generic template to follow. We aren’t going to include bicep-only session since that’s not how we roll here at Uplift Others.

Modify the sets, reps, and weight to your ability:

Weighted Neutral Grip Pull-Ups: 3-5 sets for 6-8 reps

Seal Rows: 3-5 sets for 6-8 reps

Single Arm Lat Pulldowns: 3-5 sets for 8-10 reps each arm

EZ Bar Curls: 3 sets for 10-12 reps

DB Hammer Curls: 3 sets for 10-12 reps

Incline DB Curls (palms up): 3 sets for 15-20 reps

Build Your Biceps with Uplift Others!

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